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9th edition of Prajvalan in memory of Guru Madhurita Sarang
- Sunil Sunkara
Photos: Suresh Muraleedharan

December 18, 2017

Prajvalan is a Kathak baithak hosted by patrons Preeti and Mandaar Valuskar in memory of Guru Madhurita Sarang. Preeti Valuskar, who has learnt extensively from Madhurita Sarang, calls the event Prajvalan as through it she keeps the flame of Kathak burning. The 9th edition of the offering was arranged at Sahyog Mandir, Thane on Dec 2, which also happened to be Datta Jayanti. The event was graced by Madhurita Sarang's senior disciples Chhaya Parsekar Dhume and Neelambari Jadhav, and Lucknow gharana exponents Guru Smita More and Guru Paullumi Mukherjee. In attendance were Mumbai Kathak artists Megh Ayan Bannerjee and Manjiri Wathare and tabla artist Vaibhav Risbud.

The first artist to begin the presentation was Darshana Kamerkar, disciple of Guru Manjiri Deo. She began with the Ardhanareeshwara stotra 'Namah Shivayeecha Namah Shivaya', an ode to Lord Shiva and his better half, goddess Shivayee. This was followed by taal jhaptal (10 beat cycle). Her nritta ang reflected the training and style of Guru Manjiri Deo. She presented tishra jaati and weaved it with the offering of the three pronged bel leaf, a symbol of the Trimurthi. Her concluding piece, a bhajan on Lord Datta was most apt for the occasion and ended with the audience joining in the chant of "Digambara Digambara, Sripad Vallabha Digambara." She was accompanied by Pallavi Mhaiskar on padhant. Her presentation was followed by a short recital by her students where they presented a lively chaturang.

Darshana Kamerkar

Varada Bedekar

The second presentation was by Varada Bedekar from Goa, disciple of Guru Maneesha Sathe and Guru Shama Bhate. She began her presentation with a Ganesh Vandana followed by taal jhaptaal. Her elaborate performance showcased her rhythmic virtuosity and stamina, both key essentials for a Kathak dancer. This was followed by the Lakshangeet, Niratata Dhang, a popular composition by Bindadin Maharaj where she interspersed the song with lilas of Krishna. She concluded with fast drut laya parans in teentaal and varieties of Gat Nikas.

The third presentation was by Sarita Kalele, disciple of Guru Uma Dogra. She began her recital with the Shiv Panchakshari Stotra, a vibrant choreography by Guru Uma Dogra. The extreme fluidity of wrist movements combined with the speed and crisp lines of the Jaipur gharana made Sarita a true combination of tandava and lasya. This was followed by taal teentaal and a concluding Hori, a composition of Guru Durgalal. The oscillation of inner emotions felt by Radha in playing hori with Krishna while at the same time afraid of being condoned by her sakhis was portrayed beautifully in the piece.

Sarita Kalele

Rachit Tiwari

The final presentation was by Rachit Tiwari from Pune, a disciple of Guru Rajendra Gangani. He began with an ode to Shiva, Namami Shamishaan followed by taal teentaal. His energetic style and love for rhythmic intricacy were reflected in the performance. He also presented the Ruksaar Gat that he had learnt in his brief interaction with Madhurita Sarang. He concluded with a soulful Tukaram Abhanga, 'Bheti laagi jeeva.' Just as a hungry child searched for his mother, a devotee searched for the lord, a concept beautifully presented by Rachit. He was accompanied by Gandhaali Avinash on vocal, Neeraj Solanki on padhant, Alka Gujar on sitar, Harshal Wadavlikar on pakhawaj and Rohan Chinchore on tabla.

Based in Mumbai, Sunil Sunkara is a Kathak dancer with a PhD degree.